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     " You're only spending $4 an hour…which, unless you're in a Tijuana brothel, is among the better entertainment values to the dollar. "

      Title: Winter Fury: The Battle of Tolvajarvi by Avalanche Press

      Format: Division scale tactical strategy

      Reviewing Monkey: Dungapult

      The Hype: Way back in 1939, in a war that no one in the west remembers (and may never have heard of) Russia went to battle with Finland over an expanse of snow-covered plains, which no one else wanted. This hex based tactical strategy game covers one of the major battles of that conflict through the use of squad level counters.

      What This Monkey Thought...

      Playability: You know I love these little all in one-box games, although I do acknowledge they are a niche market. All you have to do is open the box, read the rules, and you're instantly into a full-blown battle. And since everything's included, you never need to worry about which units you may or may not have, how much it'll cost you in extras, etc. As for Winter Fury (WF) specifically, it's a pretty good and fairly equal set of scenarios. Based on one of those great battles where the underdog won, Winter Fury's mix of Russian and Finnish forces are unbalanced only on paper. In actual game play, both sides end up matched fairly well and if you can't get a good dozen hours out of it you're not meant for division scale warfare.
          Compared to a lot of its brethren, Winter Fury is fairly simple to play. Often times with these division or larger scale games you are so bombarded with info and options that you'll spend more time cross referencing the rules than actually playing the game. While this is still true to a small degree with Winter Fury, it is much better than most of what's out there. Movement and units are fairly standardly laid out and combat is a relatively simple roll based on attack vs. defense ratios. Now, if you read that last sentence again, you'll already see that "relatively" is really the key word in it and you'll need to make sure that this is the time of strategy game for you before you begin. Still, that not withstanding, Fury is fun to play and easy to game on- especially if you ignore some of the more advanced rules to speed things up. 3.5 out of 5

      Learning Curve: Amusingly enough, the learning curve on WF isn't about how fast you can learn what to do, it's about how long it takes you to figure out where all the charts you need are. The game itself is fairly straightforward and averages about an hour to bring someone up to speed…but figuring out where the references you need are, can be a pain. 3 out of 5

      Aesthetics: The one universal draw back to all of these games is the generally piss poor aesthetics- and WF is no exception. Quarter inch square chits show only the most base of images and the map is uninspired. Some day, someone is going to have to make one of these that are actually pretty. 2 out of 5

      Story: Story really doesn't have much of a place in a division scale or larger game, but some background on the conflict itself has been included. No rating.

      Value vs. Cost: At 30 bucks, Winter Fury may be a bit steep for what it includes but breaks down pretty well when you compare it to the amount of time you'll game on it. Even if you only play it 3 or 4 times, at 2 hours a game you're only spending $4 an hour…which, unless you're in a Tijuana brothel, is among the better entertainment values to the dollar. 3.5 out of 5

      The Verdict:

       Fun, complete, and balanced- Winter Fury is a nice, though not landmark, addition to the large-scale tactical gaming world.

      The Good: Complete and balanced.

      The Bad: A bit slow and a tad pricey.

      The Overall Ugly: Not bad faire for those interested in the genre.

      What it's Worth: $20-30.

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